Today is Bastille Day, France’s National Holiday. Basically our July 4th but 10 days later. We are celebrating today with a bbq and some fireworks at night. And of course watching the parades taking place at the capital. This past weekend I was in Paris to end Amanda’s visit (more to come about it later) and saw all the preparations by the Eiffel Tower and L’Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Should be a big celebration!
So speaking of Amanda’s visit, and Independence Day celebrations, I am going to fill you all in on our Italian/French adventure. Let’s start with Rome, where we celebrated the 4th of July.
Our adventure really began as we boarded the sleeper car which would take us from Dijon to Rome. An experience I think everyone should have, we enjoyed being smushed in the middle bunk for 13 or so hours!! Only woke up once when our door was knocked on to check our things for pick-pocketers….nice to know they’re looking out.
When we finally arrived in Rome around noon, we hit the ground running. We did the Roman ruins and Colosseum which literally can take up multiple days if you let it. That night we had dinner downtown by the Trevi Fountain. A friend from Dijon had told me to see the fountain at night because it was more magical and less crowded. I have to say that her advice was well taken!
Amanda and I are good travel partners for the most part. We are both easy going and although Amanda likes to be a little more prepared than me, she goes along with my live and learn mentality. So we didn’t really PLAN per say for the trip. We did however print out a little 3 page guide thing of Rome and Naples–our two Italian destinations. They ended up being helpful on the eating front; all we worried about anyways. The night we went to the Trevi Fountain we knew we wanted to find Al Picchio. We were successful to find this cute restau and began with a Peroni and bruschetta. It was delicious! We also put in our pizza order from their extensive list. Things were going great, until the girls next to us told us that the credit card machine was down. Damn! We were planning on saving those Euros for things other than eating. Long story short we had to leave after only our appetizer. Not only were we upset, but the owner was also sad to see us go. This was the first of many lessons we learned during our trip; lessons about traveling and eating out. Lesson 1: ask if they take credit cards before sitting down.
We sat at another pizza place (we were by all means on a pizza diet) and although the prices were higher we were equally impressed with the pizzas offered…but they only took cash. See Ya! Next stop. Takes credit cards, seating outside…we’re starving: lets do it! Too bad the food was less than par and the draft beer tasted like the tap had never been changed. We can just chalk it up to being a very bitter meal.
The next day we woke up early and got to the Vatican City. Let me start by just saying that it was SO HOT in Italy. Literally if I couldve just worn my bikini all day long I might have. But I knew that today in the holy city I needed to cover up; or at least I thought I knew this. I specifically put on two tanks to make sure my bra didnt show, but this isnt what the Vaticanians had in mind…. Rule was to cover up shoulders and legs. In order to do this we bought the most touristy things you can think of: “I Love Roma” T Shirts and Scarves covered with monuments. We didnt stick out as clueless American tourists at all…
Dressed in our best, we took a tour of the amazing Sistine chapel and walked up the Basilica’s 500+ steps. It was all worth it and I was blown away!
We ended our afternoon sitting on the Spanish Steps which we happened to stumble upon (our no planning thing works out for us most of the time).
For our second night out in Rome, which just so happened to be the 4th of July, we again searched for a little restaurant from our write-up. Found it but with “no room in the Inn” we moved on. And this is where lesson 2 was learned: some restaurants are bad and they serve frozen food. Dont eat there…you can find better! But we ate there and drank the house wine from the jug and had the end of dinner Lemonchello shot and eventually found ourselves spending a fun night with PSU alum in a Steelers bar in Rome. Seriously! Happy Birthday America 😉
The next morning we had the only rain of our trip. Lucky for us and our hangovers we used this morning storm to sleep in! When we finally got up around noon we were starving…for pizza. Duh! We stumbled upon the best restaurant of the trip (I’ll get you all the name when I find it) where we ate the best pizza in Rome! My mouth waters just thinking of the gorgonzola, pear, walnut pizza I ate!
Then we walked to Pantheon, Trevi Fountain (I didnt have my camera the first time) and then went to explore the ‘local side of the city” starting with the Island Tiberina and then the town Trastevere. I suggest going here if you find yourself in Rome because it really takes you away from touristy things (and traps lie frozen food). We came back to this side of the city to eat dinner at a “local restaurant.” It was fun to decipher the language and try and communicate with the waitresses.
All in all Rome was fantastic and made us want to learn Italian and move there…..one day, one day.